Conventionally, PR has been a long-shot and costly activity for most of the companies. The smaller businesses have even almost completely abandoned any attempts to build an efficient and long-term PR strategy. However, with the arrival of the digital age, PR has become more accessible than ever before. Given the right instruments and access to the right strategies, small businesses can leverage digital PR to their advantage.
There are so many ways to secure success in the digital space, that PR efforts often get postponed until further notice. PPC can offer more immediate results, while content marketing is a proven yet a long-term way to ensure and track your performance. Although things like Paid Ads can bring in instant outcomes, they can never build a solid foundation for your online presence. Paid ads budget has a low chance of providing a stable traffic, once it gets withdrawn, your performance is more likely to decline. Content marketing strategy and SEO optimisation have a better chance to secure a steady traffic. Both strategies are clear and measurable – things that PR is perceived as lacking. But with the right tools, you can overcome these superstitions and make sure you are using PR in your digital marketing channel mix.
Digital PR efforts can tackle almost every aspect of website performance – brand awareness, visibility, lead attraction, and so on. Thus, employing a smart digital PR strategy is something every business, large or small, should consider.
Great PR Strategy Needs Tools
71% of small business owners do digital marketing on their own, rather than employ experts; while only 50% of small businesses use 2 or fewer software platforms or applications. And that often leaves SMB owners with fewer chances to get their product/service to stand out from the crowd within the realm of digital. Thus, having the appropriate tools that can enhance your strategy is an absolute must. And with the help of various instruments, you will be able to build an efficient and measurable digital PR plan.
While there are so many tools to choose from, we will primarily look at areas you need to have covered, for it is only up to you which instrument best suits your business- some tools like SEMrush provide an all-in-one solution to your digital marketing and SEO challenges, while others can enhance each single area of PR you should be concerned with. However, you will find a selection of tools aligned with areas to focus on below.
There are three layers to executing an actionable PR strategy. You have to identify the most valuable referral sites, make sure you are prioritizing your efforts based on data-driven decisions, and, eventually, you’ll have to reach out to the sites you want to be mentioned on.
How You Can Leverage Tools for Your Digital PR Efforts
Your end goal for PR efforts is getting mentioned, and not by anyone. So in order to get there:
1. Identify Your Competitors & Discover Their Referral Sources
Initial competition analysis will help you find out where your competitors get their mentions from and which websites provide them with their referral traffic. If you can see that most of your rivals get mentioned on a certain blog or media, make sure that you are also present there. First of all, these websites are already interested in your kind of business; and, secondly, you can only be ahead of your competition when you have already handled sources they have covered.
Thus, the first job you should do is to find your most successful competitors. While you might already know some of the biggest names in your niche, you might be missing important and well-performing newcomers. Along with tools like SimilarWeb and Searchmetrics, SEMrush’s Domain Analytics Report and Brand Monitoring Tool will enrich your knowledge and help you identify the “sharks of your industry”. Here is what you can do:
- Set up various domain analytics reports for your rivals and compare them against your website. Look at your data vs. that of your competitor’s side by side. Make sure that the tools can cover Organic, Advertising or PLA search. Identify the most successful competitors out there and make sure you are aware of their digital strategy.
- After knowing who’s your biggest challenge, find out where the rival gets mentioned. And that’s what brand monitoring is for. You’ll be able to uncover the competitor’s referral sources in no time.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Your competitors (and that’s why you have to know the best-performing ones) have already done their homework and know where your common target audience happens to be. Are they targeting millennials? Speak their language. Are they appealing to an elderly audience? Get that audience engaged with the appropriate content.
So the next job for you is to reach out to those sources and make sure that they are mentioning your business, too.
2. Invest Your Resources in the Leading Channels
Before you actually turn your often scarce resources to all those channels your competitors are employing, learn how to prioritize. Your time and money cannot, and should not, be used to target every channel possible. Focussing on the best performing PR channels will save you a lot of trouble and will spare you from an inefficient resource allocation.
Tools like Brand Monitoring, Ontolo or Open Site Explorer can make sure that the centrestone of your attention is those blogs and media that can be trusted. Sort those referral sources that you are intending to target by their authority (Domain Score, Trust Score, Brand Monitoring Score across various tools), and choose the top sites. When it comes to mentions, quality always wins over quantity.
Here are some tips for distinguishing the best referral sources for your business:
- Make sure that you are ranking mentions by the number of backlinks. Direct mentions can attract more traffic and influence your website’s ranking within Google’s SERPs.
- Looking at the titles of mentions can help you identify which domains can disclose your brand name in the post’s heading.
- Rule out mentions that are not relevant to your PR goals or that have a low trustworthiness.
3. Create a Competitive Edge
Once you’ve found the right outlets, make sure you are creating a compelling offer to your target audience. Stand out and fetch up some tactics that will help you approach the blog or media you want mentions from.
- Create an irresistible content strategy and implement it right away. Communicate your brand image and ideas in the way that appeals to your target audience, which coincides with the one of the blog or media you are willing to approach.
- Consistently share the content and mention the sources you are intending to focus your PR efforts on.
- There’s nothing wrong with a good old direct email to the owner of the source you are willing to approach. Offer something valuable and throw in a couple of compliments to the work they do.
4. Real-Time Outreach
The beauty of digital PR is the fact that the outreach can happen live and the outcome can be seen right away. PR efforts do not only deal with blogs and media outlets, they should also target current and future customers who are potentially interested in your products and services. With Social Media, for instance, there is no need to invest in costly advertising campaigns and try to reach out with your compelling offers with no guarantee that you’ll be able to measure your campaign’s impact.
Take Twitter, for instance. The social network allows companies to stay in touch with their customer base and interact with them in real time. When it comes to your Social Media accounts, you’ll be able to react to negative feedback timely, before it spots your reputation. In fact, by solving an issue rather than merely keeping the customer happy, you are increasing the chance of acquiring a loyal customer by 21 percent.
Moreover, tools like Brand Monitoring Tool, Brandwatch or Mention can help you benefit from the openness of company-customer interactions via Social Media channels. You can find new customers who, for instance, have been disappointed in your competitor’s customer service. On Social Media things happen fast, thus looking at the most recent mentions that pop up in a separate badge within the tool will provide you with that few second competitive edge for reaching out to the mentioners. Additionally, you should look at your competitors’ top mentioners across their SM accounts and try to approach them, too. Building new and finding existing brand advocates should be one of the key areas of your digital PR strategy.
When it comes to digital PR, the benefits can significantly outweigh the costs and implementation time. Thus, as a small business owner, you should invest in tools that help you lay the groundwork for an in-depth market research, competitor analysis and measuring the performance of your or competitors’ previous campaigns. Only then will you be able to build an efficient and rewarding PR strategy. So make sure that you and your business benefit from data-informed and well-thought-through PR decisions by using the right tool that covers analytics for all important areas of your PR strategy.